“I was simply preparing myself mentally for what I had to do.”
Univision late night news anchor Ilia Calderón, an Afro-Colombian woman, went to Yanceyville, N.C. to interview Chris Baker, a member of the Loyal White Knights, a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. According to a preview video that has been released by Univision, Calderón had a face-to-face interview with Baker and the two were discussing his views on segragation. During the interview, Baker tells Calderón flat out that “to me, you’re a n****r. That’s it.”
“My whole team warned me that they would insult me and I knew they would insult me,” Calderón says in the video. “I knew they would disrespect me, but I never imagined the level [of disrespect].”
Calderón admits that she was prepared to be insulted and treated badly by the people she was going to interview. When Baker used the racial slur to speak to her, Calderon says in the video, that she felt scared and unsafe. María Martínez Guzmán, the Univision vice president of news, warned Calderón to stay in the car as the crew went into the home to shoot footage for the interview earlier in the day. When the crew showed up at the property, Gúzman says that she had never seen someone look at another person with such hate as those people when looking at Calderón. Calderón was also told that she is the first black person to ever set foot on Baker’s property.
It’s 2019 in the U.S., and that looks like a lot like an updated version of 1919 America: A Black teenager trying to do what’s right and forced to keep his composure and walk away as a KKK member sprays him with a hose. Except, in 2019, there is video footage to prove it all happened.
The events leading up to the time of the video are just as important as the event itself. The 14-year-old boy’s mother, Christina Poles, witnessed and recorded the incident, and posted it to her Facebook page. Poles alleges that the 50-year-old white man involved, Glen Nicodemus, was taking photos of children at Lyon Park in East Rochester before he got into an altercation with her son.
In the video, you hear Nicodemus yell at the Black teen, “I’m a Ku Klux Klan member and you shouldn’t be f**king with the Klan.”
Then, you hear Poles begin to frantically yell, “Hey, hey, [name], come here!” Later, Poles would tell Rochester First that, “It was like a scene out of the 60s. You don’t see stuff like that in 2019.”
“I don’t give a f***,” the teen yells back at Nicodemus as he walks toward his house for the hose.
“Tell your Klan, pull up,” the teenager responds. Instead, Nicodemus reaches for the hose in front of his house and begins spraying him at a distance. Since the video has gone viral on social media, folks are making dark jokes about what feels like a dark time. “One Of Trump’s Very Fine Klansman. Heil Trump!,” tweets one person. “Didn’t we see this movie before in black and white newsreels,” tweets another.
The teenager is the one who chooses to disengage in the confrontation.
Of course, he’s pissed. A neighbor just told him the reason that he shouldn’t confront him about taking photos of children at the park is because of race differences. The teenager is Black and the older man is a white Ku Klux Klan member. Nicodemus explicitly threatened him with the force of the Klan for confronting him. As the teenager walks away, he lists profanities and says, “I’ll spit in your grave, too.”
The Poles’ family immediately called the police and filed a report.
“I can say that I’m proud of my 14-year-old son for being the bigger man and not reacting,” Poles wrote in the Facebook post. “I’m not sure I would have stayed this calm.” That said, she said that the incident has caused her “to question my decision to move my kids out to this town.”
Poles said that Nicodemus had already been aggressive with them at the park, and reignited the verbal altercation as they walked home past his house.
The video is just the second act of the confrontation. The first act started at the park when Nicodemus started “flipping them off.” Poles told Rochester First that all her son did was respond to an already strange scenario. “My son said something along the lines of ‘why do you keep flipping us off,’ said some other profanities I wish he hadn’t.”
Poles thinks that Nicodemus should be embarrassed and needs to be held accountable for his actions.
According to Poles, the cops first got involved when they asked Nicodemus to leave the park.
“Mind you this was after he was at the park taking pictures of the girls. After the cops told him to leave them alone he kept coming to the park flicking them off,” reads a Facebook post. Poles also said that it wasn’t the first time he sprayed her son with a hose, and that police had to order Nicodemus to stop targeting the Poles’ family.
Today, Nicodemus was arraigned and charged with second-degree harassment.
That said since Poles took the video to social media, and more folks seem to care that an alleged KKK member is threatening teenage boys with the N-word and spraying water at their heads without their consent, the police is looking into it further once again. The police assured Poles that the man would be arrested, and two days later, he showed up to the court hearing that would charge him with harassment.
East Rochester Police Chief Steve Clancy told the New York Daily News that, “the judge also issued an order of protection for the victim.”
Officers P. Brosch and A. Smith arrested Donald Neely, a 43-year-old Black man, for alleged trespassing in Galveston, Texas. The officers then handcuffed Neely, tied a blue rope to his handcuffs, and used the rope as a leash as they forced him to be dog walked in his own neighborhood to the staging area for the Mounted Patrol Unit. Witnesses took photos of the incident and released them to the public, prompting an outcry over the dehumanization of the man.
The two officers involved in the incident will not face a criminal investigation, according to Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset.
“My officers did not have any malicious intent at the time of the arrest, but we have immediately changed the policy to prevent the use of this technique and will review all mounted training and procedures for more appropriate methods,” Police Chief Vernon Hale said in a statement.
According to CNN, the officers were following policy when it came to arresting by horseback officers. While a criminal investigation is not happening, there is an investigation being conducted on the county level. The investigation, however, is not into the incident, but rather an investigation in the police forces’ policies.
The visceral effect of the image is rooted in the use of this “technique” to capture and enslave Black people in the antebellum south.
In a Facebook post, Texas’ Galveston Police Department included this statement:
“Although this is a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios, I believe our officers showed poor judgment in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of the arrest. My officers did not have any malicious intent at the time of the arrest, but we have immediately changed the policy to prevent the use of this technique and will review all mounted training and procedures for more appropriate methods.”
Neely’s family attorney, Melissa Morris, says that Neely is mentally ill and homeless.
Morris told KPRC that Neely lived a normal life as the father of eight children until he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder ten years ago. His family had been looking for him for the last three or four years. When Neely’s sister saw his image go viral, she immediately drove to Galveston to find him.
The Galveston Police Chief Vernon L. Hale III has since released a statement, saying “First and foremost I must apologize to Mister Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment.” Hale has confirmed that this is a commonplace technique that “is considered a best practice in certain scenarios, such as during crowd control, the practice was not the correct use for this instance.” The police department has discontinued the use of the “technique.”
“The family is offended. The family is upset,” Morris told KPRC.
“I believe the way they handled him was disgusting,” Morris told the Texas station. “No puedo con esta mierda. Me mudo. Me vomito,” comments one Twitter user.
The police officers have received no consequences for their “poor judgment” at the time of this publication.
In 2014, Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill Black man, was shot 14 times by police, though he was unarmed. Some people are calling on the police department to “fire them!” Another Twitter user feels the apology is “Not enough. Officers Brosch and Smith should be ID’d in full and then fired. If the #Galveston Police department treat a Black man like this for a misdemeanor, who knows what savage acts they would commit for a felony.”
Meanwhile, people are showing the treatment of the El Paso shooter who killed 22 people in comparison to a Black man arrested for trespassing.
President of the Galveston Coalition for Justice, Leon Phillips, told the Houston Chronicle, “All I know is that these are two white police officers on horseback with a Black man walking him down the street with a rope tied to the handcuffs, and that’s doesn’t make sense, period. And I do understand this —if it was a white man, I guarantee it wouldn’t have happened.”
For some, the photo is further proof of the injustices Black men and women face when dealing with law enforcement.
“Tell me again how racism is dead and that we Black folk just overreact to everything? Don’t worry I’ll wait,” tweets @luvwinsresist. Unfortunately, she didn’t have to wait long.
Nearly half the social media outrage to the photo comes from folks who claim the law is color blind.
They seem to be angry that anyone could suggest that race played a role in the way Neely was treated. Photos of other non-Black suspects under arrest by cops on horseback are being circulated. None of the photos we scoured found the use of a rope to function as a leash.
People of color are expending their energy on explaining racism to white folks all over the Internet this week.
After one Twitter user asked if anyone would care if they were Black cops dragging a Black man, Monica Charley chimed in to say, “Yes. I would care. I would care very much. The difference here is that the incident harkens to an earlier era during slavery when this actual act was commonplace for captured slaves. That is the reason for the extreme upset. I hope this clarifies things for you.”
The user responded using “they” language, and once again erasing the anger of Black folks as oversensitive.
Take care of yourselves out there, mi gente.
This week has been pesado in ways we couldn’t even imagine. Take care not to give away precious joules of energy to people who aren’t worthy. Our community has your back.